Started Riveting Right Top Skins

August 2, 2011

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So last night, I forgot to tell you about deburring and dimpling the rest of the ribs before clecoing the skins on. I don’t know why I forgot, or think it’s important, but I did.

Okay, tonight, I headed out to the garage after bedtime because I am too excited to get going on these top skins.

What can I do quietly? Maybe squeeze some of the more accessible rivets.

Here's the guide for wing skin riveting.

And the legend…

It's basically like paint by numbers, but for nerdy pilots.

So, I broke out the squeezer, sat down with some music, some rivets (of various sizes per above) and my cleco pliers and started in on it.

Here’s the first top skin rivet.

First top skin rivet!

The first three! (I'm such a dork.)

It turns out you can reach the bottom (rear spar) to skin rivets, and the inboard edge. I needed a closer look at the inboard edge part to make sure I didn’t rivet any of the holes that are supposed to be left open for the wing root.


A gratuitous shop head picture.

Nice, Nice, Nice, Nice, Nice, Nice, Nice.

After 140 squeezes (I lie, some of them were underdriven, so I squeezed them a little more), I had the whole rear spar (except a few) and the whole inboard edge (except a few).

In case you don't like this picture...

I took this one too.

I don’t know why I took both those pictures. The only two differences…I put the rear spar support back up (for kicks) and didn’t bend down as far for the picture. I think I’m tired.

I’m wrangling up my first riveting partner for some more skin riveting this weekend.

1.0 hour. 140 perfectly squeezed rivets. Boo. Yeah.

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Continuing to Level Right Wing Skeleton

January 30, 2011

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Well, I keep chugging along on this right wing skeleton.

Except by “chugging,” I really mean “don’t seem to be making any progress.”

First thing, I wanted to free up one of my clamps, so I drilled and bolted the outboard rib’s special angle to the support of my wing stands.

Here’s my first mistake. I was really careful to line everything up the first time so I wouldn’t have to notch the support angle to accomodate the skins (which overhang the spar end). I didn’t remember this on this go around, so now that they are bolted in, I’m going to have to notch the supports.

No big deal, but just annoying that I forgot.

A couple of 1/4" bolts will do just fine here.

Unlike everyone’s very pretty lower outboard support, I made an ugly one.

See? More ugly. (Functional, though).

After getting it clamped to the rear spar, I used my air drill and a 3/8″ bit to drill a hole for a 3/8″ bolt.

I'm not sure why I took this picture.

Here’s the inboard rear spar support.

Inboard rear spar support.

And the outboard rear spar support.

I'm using the clever clamping trick that many builders before me have used.

Then I spent some time leveling the spar to 0.0°. After that, I dropped some plumb bob’s and carefully measured from the plumb bob string to the top of the rear spar. The outboard side showed 2 1/4″, and the inboard side showed 2 3/4″. A half inch of twist doesn’t sound like a lot, but of course I wanted this to be perfect.

I chose to split the difference. I pulled the outboard edge of the rear spar down (aircraft axes) and clamped, then pushed the inboard side up and clamped.

Here’s my problem. It seemed like I really had to push the spar to get it exactly where I wanted it, and there was plenty of (what I’ll call) springback force.

After clamping the rear spar in place, I remeasured the spar, and it was now no longer square. (Of course, moving the spar edges moves the ribs, which twists the main spar.)

I releveled the main spar and really tightened up the clamps. I’m now level with the main spar and within 1/32″ on the rear spar.

I’m sure I can get it even closer, but I’m worried about how much force I’m holding with the clamps.

Here's a picture of just the skeleton, squared up within 1/32" (I want to improve this).

To see if I was close with the skins, I clecoed them on. They fit great.

Another picture with the skins clecoed on.

Anyone have any thoughts? Have any other builders seen a lot of force required to straighten the wings?

Jan 31st update:

Oh man, I love the forums. bkthomps had the following to say:

did you put skins on yet? you’re on the prepunched kit like i am, the twist thing is a null issue- once you cleco both sets of skins on, it will be dead on, other than the slant of your stands/garage floor.


I followed jamie painter’s blog and decided not to spend countless hours with the lasers/bobs/etc that I had and I just built the wings doing only the basic level checks and a string down the spar length to get rid of the droop, after finishing them, they are dead level in every dimension, if that helps w/ encouragement.

1.5 frustrating hours. (After talking with bkthomps, I am much happier. I’ll push on now and verify straightness after clecoing both sets of skins on. Wuhoo!)

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Prepping and Priming Some Rear Spar Components

November 20, 2010

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Oh man, I’m furious. I just spent some time doing a huge writeup for this post, and when I clicked, “Post”, it deleted all of my text.


I’ll try to rewrite it, but it is going to have a little bit of an annoying tone.

Anyway, I managed to get out in the shop today for a little. I had previously gotten all of the doubler plates and reinforcement forks matchdrilled to the spar, so today was all about prepping and priming.

Here’s W-707F, which sits on the back side of the left spar. I’ve deburred and scuffed it; all I need to do now is dimpled the outboard holes in preparation for attaching it to the spar and outboardmost rib.

I love scuffed parts. They hide my fingerprints.

Here’s W-707E, which is the doubler plate that sits on the aft side of the rear spar, right in the middle. I’ve marked the cutout for the aileron push tube. Where’s that step drill?

Yup, here you can see my fingerprints.

I started looking around for my stepdrill. I spent good money on that stepdrill, but I couldn’t find it anywhere. On the workbench, under the workbench, on the floor, in some other shelves. I thought maybe I put it in some other tool’s case, so I got out the dremel tool, multifunction tool, jig saw, circular saw, etc. Nothing.

I even accused the girlfriend of selling it on the black market to fund an bottle of Opus One. She insisted that while she thought about it, she didn’t.

I remember putting it in this old small cabinet of drawers (that my dad gave me when I graduated college…thanks, dad!). I spent about 30 minutes just pulling out each one of these drawers, looking for my step-drill. Grrr.

After continuing to work on the airplane (angrily) for another 30 minutes, I finally found it when I came back to the drawers and opened them with my other hand. Apparently my sausage fingers (they’re not, I promise…I’m just mad) blocked my view of the stepdrill, which was right behind the lip of the VERY FIRST DRAWER.


Anyway. Back to the rear spar. This is the forward side of the left spar, outboard end. I’ve deburred the edges of the whole spar, and now I’m deburring all of the holes I drilled.

I always scuff the areas where there are holes I've drilled and deburred. Helps me keep the "did I do this already" time to a minimum.

Oh yeah, I managed to get a couple parts primed today. Like riveting, I always feel like it is a productive day if I can prime some things.

You can also see my primer of choice, Napa 7220.

Here’s the other side of those pieces (after plenty of drying time).

I like priming.

Back to the spar, more deburring holes and scuffing.

I'll finish scuffing the whole spar when I get closer to priming.

This is the middle of the rear spar, around the aileron pushtube hole. More deburring and scuffing.

Jeesh, there are fingerprints everywhere.

Finally, I brought the two primed parts back inside.

Primed parts on the workbench always means we're getting close to riveting. Wuhoo!

After this was about when I finally found my step-drill. I was too angry at myself to keep going, so I headed inside to some grilled chicken, jasmine rice, and creamed corn. Mmmm.

1.5 hours

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Prepped Right Wing Main Ribs, Clecoed Skeleton

September 18, 2010

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I’ve been at a little bit of dilemmna the last few days trying to figure out what direction to take with the project.

I still have the left rear spar to work on (until the left main spar shows up from Van’s…shipped yesterday…should be here Wednesday), or, I could move ahead with some rib prep on the right wing.

For the sake of  seeing something cool at the end of the day, I think I’ll move ahead with the right wing, and hopefully I’ll be able to get it onto a wing stand (yet to be designed) by the time I can get the left spar caught up to this point.

With rib prep, I’ve decided not to follow the suggestion to do all the ribs at once. I’m going to do them a few at a time to save my sanity.

First thing, let’s find some ribs.

I've pointed out to you before that I am at a little bit of a disadvantage building the right wing first, from the plans that only show the left wing.

Notice here that of the three different kinds of main wing ribs, there are both left and right versions in each of the wings. From what I can tell, the flanges face left or right based on what will be easiest/accessible to rivet.

So here are some main ribs (I count 11 in the picture, there are really 14 main ribs in each wing).

My goal today was to get the ribs clecoed to the spars, so I’m only going to finish what I have to (out of efficiency, not laziness). This means I’m going to edge finish most of each rib, then move on to fluting and flange straightening.

The edge finishing (except the little crevices) only took about 30 minutes on the sanity-saving scotchbrite wheel.

The fluting and flange straightening took 2 more hours, though. Ugh.

I took all 14 right main ribs inside and watched the UNC-GT and the Vandy-Ole Miss games.

Here's a rib, halfway fluted.

After fluting (holes are straight), but before finishing up the flange-straightening (to 90° from the web).

After a little while, my hands were hurting from all the fluting, so I took a picture of what I have done so far.

Looks like 5 done, 9 to go.

My "to go" pile. {sigh}

And after another couple of hours, I had the main ribs edge-finished, fluted, and flange-straightened enough to cleco them to the spars.

I really didn’t think I’d get this far tonight. (I have to keep in mind there is still a lot more prep on the ribs before I can actually prime them and get them riveted to the spars.

Pretty. (Pretty big!)

And of course, here is the obligatory “down the lightening” holes shot.

Every other builder on the plant has taken this picture.

But that’s not all! I have variations on a theme.

It's Ginger!!!

And Jack!!! (I promise he is there, just hard to see.)

After sending the dogs back inside for their Saturday afternoon nap, I just stared at this thing for awhile.

It just looks so cool!

3.0 hours today.

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Ordered Wing Kit

May 14, 2010

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Well, I did it.

At 10:35am PST this morning, I sent in my wing kit order.


Given the 13 week lead time, it should arrive sometime in…(counting)…August.

Don’t worry, I still need to do a few things before it arrives:

  • finish up the right elevator
  • start and finish the left elevator
  • install the empennage tips
  • clean up some edges
  • build wing jigs (not jigs…”stands”)
  • paint garage ceiling
  • epoxy garage floor (maybe)
  • build garage shelves in the same manner as workbenches
  • buy and install wood floors on first floor (1000 sq ft.)

I think I can keep busy for a couple months.

Later Friday night, I heard back from Barb.

Andrew, you’ll have about 8 weeks to decide how to ship your kit, but you
will need to let me know before your ship date if you want to us any other
method other than by my normal freight company.  Thanks for the order.

Then on Monday morning:

Andrew, it will cost about $359 to ship the wing kit to your door by ABF.

Now I need to contact Tony Partain to get an estimate through him.

June update:

Apparently, if you order the deluxe locking fuel caps, Van’s will credit you for the caps they normally send with the kit. That turns $210 deluxe locking fuel caps into $150 deluxe locking fuel caps. Wuhoo!

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EAA 1426 Fly-in Drive-in

April 10, 2010

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So I’m writing this almost a week later, but I’ll try to capture my experience last Saturday.

I woke up Friday afternoon set on having some contact with airplanes, so with a quick search of the EAA calendar, I had a fly-in-drive-in to attend. One of my buddies who owns a C182 was busy and said he wouldn’t make it, so it looked like I would be driving.

Here's 7am in NC looking around my garage corner. Not too bad, although the fence needs painting. Maybe next year.

A half an hour (and Chik-Fil-A biscuit) later, heading north on 77 toward Pilot Mountain.

Look closely at the vehicle in front of me. Crap, a State Trooper. no speeding today.

Another shot of pilot mountain.

Once in mountains, there are a couple nice vistas looking back toward the south and southeast.

77 looking south on the way up the mountains.

Once I pulled into  the airport (Twin County, HLX), I met a couple people standing on the ramp and up pulls a beige 182 with a 3-bladed prop. Wait a minute, my buddy Jon has a beige C182 with a 3-bladed prop.

That plane looks familiar.

I wonder who is going to get out.

It's Jon!

(Had to get a picture of him standing straight up.)

Anyway, while I’m a member at EAA 1114, their meeting isn’t until next weekend, and the EAA 1426 chapter fly-in promised pancakes. After some talking with Jon, we stumbled across this piece of machinery.

I’m going to try to capture the jokes about it. I take credit for none of them.

UFO (Unidentified Frying Object.)

So the joke goes that there was a retired Air Force officer who, as part of chapter 1426’s winter activity list, designed and constructed this beast to contend with some of the other pancake cookers out there.

Someone made a pretty funny joke about it being a disc-shaped metal object seen near the airport, and that it was a UFO (Unidentified Frying Object.) I actually spilled a little coffee out my nose at this.

Somebody then pointed out that it must be an advanced design project from the Air Force.

The the Air Force guy piped up and said…

"Nope, it's leaking oil. Must be from the Navy."

Much giggling ensued. No offense to the Navy, or any armed services branch.

Anyway, I got a couple action shots. The cooking surface is a 3/8″ aluminum disc (not aviation grade, the health department won’t approve that as a cooking surface because of some anti-corrosion additives or something). I was interested in that, but couldn’t find any more details. Anyway, th disc spins about 1 RPM, which, with 4 burners (note the manifold in the lower part of the next picture) at 90° from eachother, yields <counting>…18…19…20 pancakes every 3 minutes.

Two times around on the first side, then flip and one more time around.

Action shot! (That's a nice spatula, too.)

Look at how perfectly they are cooked.

Anyway,  I had to get a picture in front of it. Here I am, for only the second time in the blog. Sorry I didn’t comb my hair.

Who, other than me, would say, "Hey Jon, take a picture of me with the pancake cooker!"

Then, they showed me a partially completed RV-7 kit. They inherited it from someone, and are thinking about selling it. (I think they are more interested in completing it within the chapter, but they were interested me in at least taking a look.) If anyone reading this wants the contact info for them, let me know, I can put you in touch.

RV-7 horizontal and elevators.

An aquajet (ride for kids).

The wings.

More wing pictures.

Even more.

The vertical, rudder, flaps and ailerons.

These look like the older style wingtips to me.

Oops, forgot to rotate the picture.

Then we walked back to the main hangar, and I grabbed some pictures of the various projects there.

One of two helicopter projects in work.

This is "one of the first non-straight-tal 172s." Even though I used to work for Cessna (I was on the jet side of things), I can't remember what date that would have been early 60s?

I don't remember what I was trying to take a picture of here. Maybe the hangar doors and a 172...and half a ladder. Here are some hangar doors and a 172...and half a ladder!

Ooh, a King Air.

Looking back outside. The pancake cooker is in front of the helicopter being prepped for paint.

Here's the inside of that 172. No priming. No corrosion. Hmm.

A closeup of one of the helicopters.

Inside for breakfast, I got a picture of the sausage and egg chef and the EAA banner they hang up for meetings.

I'm hungry.

One of the very nice ladies there helping with breakfast came to Oshkosh in 2008 and got a picture in front of the Honda Aircraft Company’s HondaJet (HA-420). That’s our proof of concept aircraft.

A picture of a picture of the Model 420 HondaJet.

Then, Jon had to head out, so we grabbed a couple pictures in front of his plane.

We're bad at the whole lighting thing. Maybe we should try the back of the aircraft.

Much better. Jon told me it was okay for you guys to see his tail number. If you say so, Jon.

Then, I snapped some pictures of Jon’s departure.






Quiet vroom.

Then…I left, too. (How anti-climactic.)

On the way home.

That’s all. Now back to work on the airplane!

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